This is my response to questions and comments from my last blog post, and we will explore some more best practices related to barn fire prevention and response. Remember, there is a difference between prevention and response.

Many of you submitted excellent ideas on how to prevent barn fires in response to the last blog post about barn fires. These comments show me that as an industry, we horse people are pretty aware of the standard ideas out there to prevent fires in a barn: Have a NO SMOKING policy, remove cobwebs, separate hay and flammables in the barn, and leave halters and lead ropes available. So many of the listed ideas were spot on prevention methods. Several people went into details about how they prepare for wildfires that might impact their facilities, including having a pond to draft water from for a fire, and leaving plenty of open space with minimal combustibles between them.

We talk about these ideas, but when I walk through people’s barns I often see major deficiencies, such as:

  • Obstacles in the barn aisle that will make it impossible for a firefighter or first responder to negotiate safely in the dark and smoke. (See photo)
  • Commonly, inappropriate fans, heaters, and other electrical devices are used with extension cords. These are just waiting to create a spark that can fall into the hay or shavings.
  • A lack of detection devices.

Others were more interested in talking about the actual response phase–where you can detect that the barn is actually already in smoke